Have you ever heard of a butter-less butter tart? Well, if you’re ever going to be introduced to one, of course it will be here on this blog — where else, right? ;) Nope, not a spec of dairy-free butter in there, no margarine or oil, no refined sugar, no dairy, no eggs, and no gluten… But, yes, these vegan butter tarts are real — I promise! ..and real simple to make too.
You see, butter tarts are kind of a quintessential little treat around these parts. They’re stocked at almost any Canadian grocery store, they’re proudly displayed in bakery windows and cafes… Actually the nearest town to where I used to live a few years back (located in the middle of nowhere) only had about 5 shops total(!), and one of them was a butter tart shop! That’s how serious Canadians can be when it comes to butter tarts. Making them at home is also quite popular, though I have to admit I always just bought in the past since they are so ubiquitous…
So they’ve been on my Canadian-Classics-to-Tackle list for a while, but somehow never a priority because I’ve been trying to keep away from dairy-free butters altogether (or at least as much as possible) in my recipes. In the back of my mind it seemed like some kind of butter substitute would need to be involved in the making of a vegan butter tart. But then… I was working on this maple pie recipe one week and realized it actually was sooo close to a butter tart — suddenly I saw the light and realized I can do this without the butter…. and some experiments ensued…
Now, when I mentioned that they are quite close to that maple pie — I mean it! The only real difference between maple pie and butter tarts is that they are meant to be a touch less maple-flavored (so I substituted some of the maple for coconut nectar / agave, but still containing enough of the maple to have its signature, velvety flavor in there). Also (for the uninitiated), butter tarts usually involve raisins or pecans… or sometimes crushed walnuts, though I never went for that kind, myself.
It’s also typically pretty difficult to find a bakery butter tart or a butter tart recipe without corn syrup, but in this recipe — none!
So if you are a butter tart aficionado, one difference with this recipe: the top doesn’t get the signature crispy layer in the same way as the dairy/sugar variety, but honestly it’s hardly noticeable to me and I’m just happy I get to have butter tarts again. Plus, if you sprinkle your tarts with finely chopped pecans you wouldn’t know the difference. The trade off is: BUTTER TARTS, sans butter, gluten, refined sugar, and corn syrup… So so long as you’re willing to accept that teensy little hitch, the rest is pure (gluten-free & vegan) butter tart magic…
- 6 tbsp white rice flour
- 2 tbsp cashew butter
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/16 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350F. Oil a 6-cup muffin pan and set aside.
- Process all crust ingredients in a food processor until the mixture begins to form a ball (note if the mixture is too runny, add a bit more flour, if too dry, add a bit more maple syrup. It should be very very soft and pliable but not sticky — so you can form it easily into a ball with your hands). Form the mixture into a ball and knead briefly. Divide into 5-6 parts (you can make 6 shorter cups or 5 taller ones — like mine). Place the dough inside each muffin cup and form into a crust along the base and walls with your fingers. Sprinkle the base evenly with the crushed pecan pieces or raisins (in filling ingredients). Set aside.
- Place all remaining filling ingredients in a small blender (I used my magic bullet) and process until smooth. Warm the mixture slightly by transferring it into a glass cup and placing the glass cup into a bowl half-filled with very hot water. Let the mixture warm up for a few minutes, then give it a stir.** Once gently warmed, divide this mixture between the cups (pouring it over the pecans / raisins). (Note: it will be very liquid at this stage — that is normal. It will set as it bakes).
- Bake in a preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool thoroughly to set before (ideally overnight or at least a few hours, or enjoy carefully after cooling for a bit if you prefer them warm and gooey — just be careful, that filling will be HOT!). Enjoy!
*Note: it’s very important to chill the can first ahead of time, ideally overnight, so that the white cream layer separates from the water in the can. You only want to scoop out that firm white layer of cream, and leave all the water behind for other uses (or discard). I also recommend using Thai Kitchen full fat coconut milk here — I’ve had the best results with it for these types of recipes.
**The reason for gently warming up the mixture at this stage is that sometimes if it’s too cold it can bake differently as a result, creating a sort of milky / creamy filling that’s different to the texture and look of a butter tart.
This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com for products used to make the recipe.